The Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs and Intensive Outpatient Programs

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Recovery

The Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs and Intensive Outpatient Programs

As many as 52.9 million Americans struggle with mental illness. Finding the right level of care can be challenging, but many treatment options are available. For example, some people need more intensive treatment than regular outpatient care but do not meet the criteria for acute inpatient treatment. Therefore, both partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP) are great options. In addition, there are several treatment plans for people with varying mental health needs.

What Is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

The American Association for Partial Hospitalization (AAPH) defines PHP as “an outpatient program specifically designed for the diagnosis or active treatment of a serious mental disorder when there is a reasonable expectation of improvement or when it is necessary to maintain a patient’s functional level and prevent relapse or full hospitalization.

PHP provides patients with a structured and more comprehensive program than care received in doctors’ or therapists’ offices. Most programs operate six hours a day and vary from three to seven days a week. However, patients do get to return home at the end of the day and resume their daily lives. This level of care is much more intensive than just seeing a therapist once a week. However, PHP has limits and is not a substitute for inpatient treatment for patients who are suicidal or homicidal.

The Origins of PHP

When and why were PHP programs created? The first description of a PHP was in 1937 by a Russian psychiatrist. The program was created in the early 1930s, and by World War II, PHPs were flourishing. They allowed for treating patients with mental illness on an outpatient basis when inpatient beds were not available due to the necessity of treating war-related injuries.

Here in America, the Menninger Clinic opened a PHP in the 1950s, and PHPs became popular in the 1960s and 1970s behind the community mental health movement, which called for locally based treatment. Another driving force behind the popularity and growth of PHPs was the cost-effectiveness compared to inpatient treatment.

Recently, the recovery movement has sparked a renewed interest in PHPs. Recovery-oriented treatment at the PHP level of care can benefit society as well as the individual patient.

Benefits of PHP

PHP treatment programs that are provided on an outpatient basis and are intense have several benefits including:

  • Can be used in place of inpatient admission in some instances
  • Stabilize patients in crisis
  • Can allow for shorter inpatient stays because patients can step down to PHP
  • Less costly than inpatient treatment
  • Patients remain in the community and get to return home at night after treatment
  • Patients can work part-time or go to school while still receiving treatment
  • With patients remaining in the community for treatment, PHP can enhance social role functioning
  • PHP allows patients to ease back into the community and their former role functioning
  • Higher patient satisfaction with PHP than with inpatient treatment

Brief IOP History

The first IOP in the United States was a substance use disorder (SUD) IOP designed in 1973. IOP is effective for psychiatric disorders as well as for SUD.

What Is IOP?

IOP provides a structured treatment that is less restrictive than PHP and inpatient. IOP programs usually meet three to five days a week for two to five hours. A patient can enter treatment at the IOP level of care, or it can be used as a step down from PHP. However, it is most effective when it is part of a continuum of care.

A set of core services are essential to all IOP programs. Some of these core services are:

  • Group therapy and counseling
  • Psychoeducational programming
  • Medication management
  • Case management services
  • 24-crisis management services
  • Individual therapy
  • Medical treatment

Benefits of IOP

IOP treatment can be beneficial for people with mental health disorders. Some benefits of IOP treatment are:

  • Patients can continue to work a full-time job and or go to school.
  • IOP is a less restrictive level of care than inpatient or PHP.
  • Patients can practice the skills they learn in treatment in real-world situations since they remain in the community while receiving treatment.
  • Care is cost-effective.
  • More facilities are providing IOP virtually (online), making it an even more convenient option.

Which Level of Care Is Right for You?

The answer to this question depends on your individual care needs. For example, if you require more structure and support or are stepping down from inpatient or crisis care, PHP will probably be the most appropriate level of care. On the other hand, if you are completing PHP and still need more structure and support than weekly therapist visits, or you cannot take time off work or from family obligations, IOP could be more suitable.

At Sober Life, you can get an assessment by highly trained, licensed, professional staff to determine your unique needs and which level of care will best meet those needs. If you need care with structure and intensity between inpatient and outpatient therapy, help is available in PHP and IOP.

Finding the best treatment for people with a mental illness can be complicated. There may be times when more intense care than outpatient therapy is needed, but the needs are not critical enough for acute inpatient treatment. Times like these are when partial hospitalization programs (PHP) or intensive outpatient programs (IOP) can significantly benefit patients. At Sober Life, we offer mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) PHP and IOP programs. Our strength-based, resiliency-focused programs are flexible and allow patients to seek treatment while remaining in the community. Our PHP and IOP programs also allow patients to practice the life skills learned in treatment in real time. Our highly trained staff use different treatment modalities to stay flexible to patient needs. Treatment plans are individualized to meet the unique needs of each patient. Call Sober Life at (619) 542-9542 today to learn more about our PHP and IOP programs.

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